News Release

T – 17 – 20
Meredith Williams, Director

October 26, 2020

Contact: Sanford (Sandy) Nax
(916) 416-4309

California is the First in the Nation to Add Solar Panels to Universal Waste Program

SACRAMENTO – On Jan. 1, California will be the first state in the nation to add hazardous waste solar panels to its universal waste program, a move intended to promote solar panel recycling and reuse and to keep them out of landfills. The new regulation is a stepping stone toward the full “cradle-to-grave” approach for climate initiatives that California sets forth and acts as a model for the rest of the nation to follow.

With solar providing an increasing amount of the state’s electricity, and new laws that require solar panels on new homes, California is one of the first states to streamline waste management options for these energy systems. 

“Once again, California is leading the way on the safe handling of hazardous waste,” said Dr. Meredith Williams, Director of the Department of Toxic Substances Control. “This streamlined and easy to understand end-of-life system is another great step forward in our state’s efforts to put environmental protection first – both for the health and safety of our people and natural resources.”

The new regulation on solar panels, also known as photovoltaic modules, provides a less restrictive and more streamlined alternative to waste management for solar panels, while still maintaining restrictions on toxic chemicals such as lead, cadmium and selenium.

The regulation applies to the handling, collection, accumulation, and transportation of solar panel waste. It allows self-authorization for universal waste handlers to conduct certain physical treatment activities on solar panels.

Solar panels or parts that are not recycled and are slated for disposal may still be considered hazardous waste and subject to hazardous waste standards.

The universal waste designation only applies to solar panel waste handled in California. Once transported outside California, the waste must must be managed in compliance with respective local, state, and federal regulations related to hazardous wastes.

The new regulation is posted on DTSC’s website at:

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FOR GENERAL INQUIRIES: Contact the Department of Toxic Substances Control by phone at (800) 728-6942 or visit To report illegal handling, discharge, or disposal of hazardous waste, call the Waste Alert Hotline at (800) 698-6942.

The mission of DTSC is to protect California’s people and environment from harmful effects of toxic substances by restoring contaminated properties, enforcing hazardous waste law, reducing hazardous waste generation, and encouraging the manufacture of chemically safer products.